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  3. A Message from Acting Secretary Pete Gaynor on the Observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

A Message from Acting Secretary Pete Gaynor on the Observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Release Date: January 15, 2021

On Monday, our nation will celebrate the legacy of the late Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who dedicated his life to civic engagement and social equality, as well as racial, economic and pay equity for all. It has been more than 50 years since Dr. King transformed the country through his unwavering goal for justice and equality. Now, it is our turn to continue his legacy and strengthen our communities through acts of service, especially while so many Americans are suffering. We must work every day to ensure justice, equity and equality for all.

In 1993, Congress designated the third Monday of January as the National Day of Service to honor Dr. King’s achievements and influence as a great American civil rights leader. However, this day is much more than a federal holiday or day off—it is a day for all Americans to come together to empower each other, care for each other and help heal our communities. At the Department, we place a high value on community service, recognizing that homeland security begins in neighborhoods all over America, with engaged individuals working together to make our communities stronger and more resilient. Although COVID has limited our ability to gather, there are still many ways you can make a difference, not only during the National Day of Service, but all year long. Please visit nationalservice.org to view opportunities, such as giving to a food bank, donating blood, or assisting an elderly neighbor. If you decide to volunteer in-person for a socially-distanced opportunity, follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention safety precautions. It is important we keep ourselves and our communities safe by each doing our part to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

One of Dr. King’s most persistent questions was, “What are you doing for others?” Whether you are helping a friend, delivering meals, or engaging in another way on this national service day, you are preserving Dr. King’s legacy of hope, love, service, and community. A genuine respect for one another is recognizing the value that all races, all genders, all ethnicities and all religions bring to our collective society. Our collective respect must transcend the way we look, the way we worship or our political beliefs. Let us be a nation unified, doing for and treating others the way we ourselves want and deserve to be treated—in love and humility. I know that each of you do this every day.

Thank you for your continued public service to our nation and commitment to the Department.


Pete Gaynor
Acting Secretary of Homeland Security

With honor and integrity, we will safeguard the American people, our homeland, and our values.

Last Updated: 01/15/2021
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